Workers’ Climate Action activists have been busy bringing solidarity from the Climate Camp to workers in struggle across London.
On Thursday around 10 WCA activists took off from the camp to help out on the 12 hour picket of Tower Hamlets College. We went back again on Friday and plan to return on Tuesday until management cave in back down.
The teachers, organised in the UCU, were taking indefinite strike action to save 13 jobs and over 1000 ESOL (English as a Second Language) places. Thursday was the first day of student enrollment and the pickets turned away many students. Many students who did cross the picket line expressed their solidarity with the struggle and support for their teachers against management.
The links between environmentalism and this dispute are not immediately obvious. On a basic level, any increase in working-class confidence is a step forward to building the kind of movement we need to fight the system that drives climate change.
On a slightly deeper level, the attacks on ESOL provision are attempts to divide our communities. The capitalist establishment is trying to pin all the grievances of the economic crisis on immigrants. The “British Jobs for British Workers” slogan used at the start of the construction strikes was a shocking reminder of their success and of the poisonous nationalism that exists in our class. Attacks on ESOL provision will mean that immigrants will become even easier scapegoats, isolated in their communities and unable to defend themselves against the bile of the right-wing press.
In the final analysis, governments throughout the world are tightening immigration controls. They are well aware that climate change will result in unprecedented levels of migration as people flee flooding, droughts, famine and disease. In Bangladesh it is estimated that millions of people will be displaced by rising sea levels -the Indian government is already well underway in constructing a fence along its borders. In Europe we have seen ever more draconian measures used against immigrants and asylum seekers. By attacking ESOL provision the British establishment is laying the groundwork for Fortress Britian.
This is not our vision. We must stand united against those who seek to split our class with racism.
If you can’t get to the picket or the support meeting 3rd September 5pm, St Mathias Church, off Poplar High Street, Poplar DLR then:
– Join the Facebook Group “Tower Hamlets – Stop the Cuts!”
– Lobby your MP: http://www.theyworkforyou.com
– Sign the online petition: petitions.number10.gov.uk/THCollegefunding/
– Write to the college principal demanding “Jobs and Education for All” at Michael.Farley@tower.ac.uk